The elephant in the room, in literally almost every photography group/community that you run across on the internet these days, is what should you charge for your photography services? With so many varying opinions and personalities its easy to feel totally lost in regards to what you should be charging for you work. I’m here to lay out the basics for you and help you start this new year, and new decade, with a fresh perspective and to get your business making you money and paying you back for all your hard work.
The one thing without a doubt that you see constantly being talked about is cost of doing business. What does this mean? It is exactly as it sounds. What does it cost you, out of your pocket, to operate your photography business?
Running a cost of doing business analysis is absolutely crucial to financial success with your business. It will give you the bottom line, the absolute minimum that you can charge without losing your own money. Every business and every business owner is different, so everyone’s bottom line will vary. I can tell you one thing for certain though, there is no point in running a business in the red.
The major expenses every business needs to factor in are, taxes (local, state, federal), salary (yes paying yourself a salary is a business expense), Adobe memberships, website hosting fees, client gallery hosting fees, business insurance, marketing, and equipment maintenance. The average profitable photography business has a minimum of $10,000 in yearly expenses once you factor in things like, education, training, props, location fees, gas, wear and tear on your vehicle and an accountant to help you out with your taxes at tax time.
Photography centered Facebook groups can be so valuable to helping you grow your business and your skills. With that being said, Facebook groups are also places where I have seen some of the worst business advice possible, being given out often.
One of those pieces of bad pricing advice that I have seen floating around is to “look at all your local competition, and find whoever is close to your skill level and price what they do.” WHY is this bad advice? It’s because you have no idea what those other photographer’s cost of doing business is. Theirs is probably going to be so different than yours because so many variables come into play, especially if you’re a parent and have to secure childcare for your little ones. Doing local market research is a good thing, but pricing the exact same as locals can be so detrimental to the financial health of your own business especially when you don’t even know if they’re making any money off their pricing.
What is my time away from my loved ones worth to me? Is it worth the countless hours I spend on client interaction, marketing, shoot time and editing only to pay myself minimum wage or less?
Do I want to actually pay myself a LIVABLE salary off of my passion? Hint- the answer is yes because we all absolutely deserve a livable wage for the skilled luxury service we provide.
Do I want to work harder, or smarter? – Why charge less than what it costs you to actually run your business, so you’re scrambling to book extra sessions to meet your goals? This is where proper pricing comes into play.
Fun Math Fact! – Did you know, in order to bring home $20,000 in one year at $150 per session, you would have to do a minimum of 4 sessions per week, 50 weeks out of the year? That’s 200 sessions all for $20,000. That’s A LOT of work! (and I didn’t even factor in expenses!)
Photography is a skilled profession. We all work so hard on our craft to perfect it. One of the best tips I’ve seen given to other professionals was by my awesome friend Cassie Clayshulte. This tip was to Google “Average skilled professional salary” in your local area. I hope you’re both pleasantly surprised and honestly shocked to see what those numbers come up as! We are creatives, who pour our hearts and souls into our work. Each piece of art we produce is one of a kind. We create memories for people to show their grand children one day, and to be passed down to remember us by. When you truly think about it from your artists soul, what we are able to do with our minds, hands and cameras is incredible. We are more than worth pocket change. We are worth livable salaries that we can support or families with, and save for our own retirements with.
You OWN your own business! That is so amazing! So get out there and run your numbers, take that marketing course you’ve been contemplating, post those ads you’ve been putting off. 2020 is the year for the bar to start raising for our entire industry. I can just feel it! Go be a badass!!